Heading out to a farm and picking your own produce is a great summer activity with kids. They’ll love the chance to pick (and eat!) their favorite fruits and vegetables, and they’ll learn a bit about where their food comes from in the process. Plus it’s a great chance to get everybody outside and enjoying the summer weather. Read on for our top five tips on making your pick-your-own experience a success, plus recommendations of pick your own farms to love in the Front Royal area.
1. Pick What You’ll Eat
This one might seem obvious, but when you’re faced with a field full of delicious looking fruit, it’s easy to get carried away. Focus on planning your outing around fruit you know you’ll still enjoy when you get it home. Your kids will probably enjoy the outing more if they’re picking a favorite food too.
As well as picking what you like, it’s also a good idea to keep in mind how much you’ll be able to eat when you get it home. It’s easy to pick a lot in the field and feel overwhelmed when it’s in your kitchen. We have some more tips below on using up excess, but it’s good to plan ahead too to minimize waste.
2. Call or Check Social Media before Heading Out
Farming (and public fruit picking!) are not completely predictable, and supply at a pick-your-own farm varies from day to day. It’s a good idea to call the farm before you get there to make sure they have fruit available for picking. Many pick your own farms will also post updates on their social media pages so you can make sure there’s fruit available and avoid disappointment. The good news is that there are so many pick your own farms in Front Royal you should be able to find another one if your first choice is picked out.
3. Pack a Picnic
Farms are beautiful places, especially around Front Royal, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around. Plan for being able to take it slow and enjoy your surroundings when you get there. Most pick-your-own farms welcome visitors to bring picnics and enjoy their time in the fields. Bring foods that’ll tasted good with whatever you’re picking for maximum picnic success! Pair whipped cream and shortcake cookies with strawberries or peaches, or bring cheese and crackers on your apple picking expedition.
4. Be Prepared for the Heat
It’s hard for kids to remember to take care of themselves when they’re outdoors in the sun and busy having fun. But summer’s heat in Virginia is something to take seriously. There’s nothing fun about starting to feel sick in the middle of an outing. To help prevent heat-related problems, make sure everyone wears hats. Be sure to pack water bottles or electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or coconut water and hydrate frequently.
4. Get Creative with Your Haul
Even if you limit yourself when you’re out picking, it’s still likely you’ll get home and find that what you’ve brought looks like a lot more on your kitchen table than it did in the field. Don’t give in to overwhelm and let it go bad before you can eat it. Having surplus fruit can be a great learning experience for everyone. Trying baking up a fruit dessert together. Cobblers and crisps are classic favorites that are both simple and healthy. You can even eat the leftovers with yogurt for a yummy and nutritious breakfast. Or take the chance to teach kids about fruit preservation (and enjoy your pickings for much longer!) You can preserve fruit by making jams and jellies and canning them, or for a super easy solution freeze your haul and save it for smoothies and more!
Where to Pick Your Own in Front Royal
If you’re ready to get started picking your own produce, Front Royal is a great place to be! Hartland Orchard is a popular option that’s easy to access (and find!) from I-66, although it can be crowded. Hollins Farm is a slightly further drive, but it’s great option with lots of variety, including pick your own veggies as well as fruits, and even dig-your-own peanuts! And Valley View Farm is a great place to spend a whole day with opportunities for farm tours, local cider and wine tasting, and more! For peaches and apples in a scenic setting that’s a bit more removed from the hustle and bustle, try Stribling Orchard. It’s a beautiful place to pick your own and enjoy a picnic.
Flowers aren’t (usually) edible, but they’re still fun to pick. Head to Clover Hill Farm to enjoy pick your own a different way, with gorgeous blooms available to pick spring through fall. Sign up for a kids class too, and you can pick flowers and learn more about gardening all at the same time.
Picking your own fruit and flowers is a great activity for kids and adults in the warmer weather. If you’re around the Front Royal area, you’re in a great place to take the family out and pick, with loads of options to find the farm that’s perfect for you. Follow our tips and head on out there for a day of delicious, educational fun!
As gas prices continue to climb this summer, it’s a great time to appreciate all we have close at hand. Those in the Front Royal area have plenty of fun to enjoy without travelling too far, and in the summer there’s also lots of food being produced close to home. No need to buy in food from far away and pay for the costs of transporting it!
Here at Discover Front Royal, we’re providing a guide to some of the fantastic local food that’s produced right in our area. Today, we’ve rounded up three local favorites that all begin with a “P”: peaches, peanuts, and . . . pies! Read on to learn more about these classic local foods, and how to enjoy them in the Front Royal area.
Pick your Own Peaches in Front Royal
Biting into a delicious, juicy peach is one of the pleasures of summertime, and if you have a freshly picked, local peach in hand, it’s going to taste all the better. Virginia has a great climate for peach production, and has ranked as the fourteenth largest peach producer in the United States. In a rural area like Front Royal, it’s not too hard to find orchards with delicious fresh peaches ready to pick and eat! Peach season runs through July, August, and sometimes into early September, so most of the summer is a great time to eat fresh, local peaches.
To pick your own peaches, head to one of Front Royal’s nearby fruit farms. Hartland Orchard is a popular option, and conveniently close to I-66. To get a bit more off the beaten path, try Valley View Farm. After peach picking, you can enjoy wine and cider tasting as well as exploring the extensive “locavore farm market" filled with local products. Hollin Farms is another great peach-picking option, where you can also pick in-season fresh vegetables. Stock up on summer garden classics like corn, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, peppers, and more, including some you may never have heard of.
To ensure availability, always call ahead before heading out on a pick you own expedition.
Front Royal’s Virginia Peanuts
From peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to roasted peanuts and peanut butter cups, it’s safe to say peanuts are a favorite staple of the American diet. But did you know that Front Royal’s own state of Virginia was the first known U.S. location where peanuts were planted, and remains one of the nation’s top producers of peanuts? First arriving in Virginia in the early 1900s, peanut plants thrived in Virginia’s warm summers and sandy, loamy soil. Today, Virginia’s peanuts are an exciting and delicious local product.
If you’re thinking of peanuts as a nut growing on a tree, think again. Despite their nutty name, peanuts are actually legumes that grow beneath the soil. In the Front Royal area, you can enjoy a close encounter with a peanut plant at Hollin Farms, where dig-your-own peanuts are typically available in September and October. Bring the kids for a fun and unique outing, and make some homemade peanut butter when you get home!
To find Virginia Peanuts that you don’t have to dig up in Front Royal, check out the gift shop at the Apple House, where you’ll find shelves full of local products, including peanuts and lots more. Or explore Dusty’s Country Store where you’ll find delicious, small-batch made peanut butter made with peanuts from the great state of Virginia.
Enjoy a Local Pie in Front Royal
“As American as Apple Pie” is how the saying goes, and it’s true that pies are a classic favorite American dessert. During the summer and fall, using in-season fruit for a pie is a great way to make an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert, and give a fresh, local touch to your table. To make pie-making a snap, try this easy “no-roll” pie crust recipe. Make the crust right in your pie dish, add your filling, and you’ll be cooking up a delicious pie before you know it.
Want the pie without the work? Find delicious local-made pies in Front Royal at Down Home Comfort Bakery. Freshly made with all-natural ingredients, Down Home Comfort Bakery’s baked goods are sure to put a smile on your face and leave your guests asking for more.
There’s so much delicious local bounty to enjoy around Front Royal in the summer. Explore the “P’s” of local produce this summer and celebrate all that the great state of Virginia has to offer.
Discover Front Royal